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So after the months of preparation in organizing and testing before the breeding, praying and crossing fingers that your girl “took,” fretting before, during and after the whelping, the constant vigil for weeks after the whelping, the 24/7 care of your girl and the litter, the vet visits, testing and evaluating your pick, it is time to find your litter their “forever homes.”

This process may be the most difficult of all in your efforts of breeding and raising Cairn Terriers, especially in today’s world full of dubious characters.

Hopefully you have received many contacts through referrals [] from the national or regional clubs. However, it is sometimes difficult to sort through the potential homes.

As a responsible breeder, it is important to adhere to your parent club’s requirements as it relates to testing the puppy for breed-related health issues. If possible, these tests should be completed before the puppy leaves.


Spay/Neuter Agreements

If you happen to be fortunate enough to have several females and will be placing one or more into a pet home, it is a good idea to make arrangements to spay the female, if she is old enough, and let her recover before she leaves. We have all heard stories of individuals who are less than truthful when acquiring puppies, and their purpose for wanting a female is to breed her in their environment or broker her to a commercial breeder. By incorporating the spay/neuter clause into your contract with the potential buyer, this will all but eliminate individuals with harmful intentions.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, such as family members, people who provide references within the Cairn or terrier community, or those who have purchased a puppy in the past. That being said, it is in the best interest of the female and the potential owner to implement this arrangement.


Matching the Puppy With a Potential Home

Then take the time to really evaluate the temperament of both the individual puppy and the potential adoptees. It is really important to try to match the prospective home with the puppy’s personality traits, such as his activity level and confidence, as well as his current stage of training. These are particularly relevant, as some puppies mature in every way at a much slower pace than others and also require more exercise and attention than others. This matching process will increase the odds that both the puppy and the new owners will be pleased with the transition.

When it is time to allow visitors to meet your litter, remember that it is always a good idea that the puppies have had at least one set of puppy shots and that you are careful about the handling of the puppies.

It is a sign of the times that currently exist, but make every attempt to pre-screen your potential homes. If the contact does not come through a referral from a club member or someone you have placed puppies with before, be careful.


Screen Carefully, Have a Contract

Take the time to interview the potential buyers over the phone several times, if possible. It will sometimes come to fruition during the conversations that the individual either will back out, or you will realize the person or situation wouldn’t be a good fit for the puppy.

All of us should be aware of the criminal activities that are presently going on. Situations have occurred where individuals misrepresent themselves and are actually brokers who are paid to resell the puppies (breeding females especially) or even plan to sell small dogs for bait in dog fighting.

Do yourself and the puppy a favor: Ask for references, and get a copy of their driver’s license if you don’t know them personally or they haven’t been referred to you. It is also imperative to have a written and signed contract with the potential buyer that includes clauses about proper care, spaying or neutering, and other requirements. If you don’t have a contract that you use, contact the Cairn community, as the majority of breeders will have a format they have utilized at some point. Many puppy deals that have gone badly have occurred because there was no written contract.

It is extremely important that you are cautious with regard to who you allow into your home. Try to adhere to the following safety measures: Pre-screen, make sure you are not alone at home when a stranger comes to visit, and if you feel uncomfortable regarding a potential buyer, go with your gut!

In closing, remember this labor of love that has resulted in a litter of healthy, happy Cairn Terrier puppies is just the first phase. Perhaps the most important process is to begin to delve through the list of potential homes and find the best fit for each puppy and ensure “there is no place like home.”

Lori Pollack, Cairn Terrier Club of America; May 2015 AKC Gazette
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This article was originally published in AKC Family Dog magazine. Subscribe today ($12.95 for 6 issues, including digital edition) to get expert tips on training, behavior, health, nutrition, and grooming, and read incredible stories of dogs and their people.
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